Phantom Posse’s Be True, one of the year’s finest albums, is the expression of ten friends, a true collaboration that flows with impressive cohesion. The sound—languid, faded, somnolent—is shaped by Posse’s producer and overall connective thread, Eric Littmann. Since his early releases as Phantom Power (and later as Steve Sobs), Eric has approached home recording as an outlet free of expectations, uploading introspective, stream-of-thought vignettes (roaming guitar, subdued beats, occasional vocals) driven by experience and mood. As those projects matured, they also expanded in scope, documenting not just one artistic path, but the many zigs and zags of the musicians in his orbit. The dynamic came to culmination with last year’s Home, and is perfected on this self-described travel diary, Be True.
Last summer Eric took me on one of his semi-regular night walks around New York City, along with Posse member Thomas Beddoe (aka Cheetah Lamp). There was much to talk about—existentialism, identity, creative process, science (the latter especially fascinating given Eric’s profession and passion)—but our general mode became one of observation… how the city looks when you’ve got the time to really look. Metropolitan qualities romanticized to the point of cliché, often taken for granted in our day-to-day. The hypnotic calm in watching the movement of masses from afar, the muffled sound bites pouring out as restaurants give way to bars, the glow of a billion windows, lights, and signs bouncing off the waterfront. In the span of roughly four hours, we looped around the West Side before crossing the bridge to Brooklyn. It felt like we shared something, difficult to articulate. And it’s just like Eric to compile a little sense from it, sending over two iPhone videos shot low-key that evening, and the words below:
“When Phantom Posse started I was mixing on a pair of computer speakers that came with a 2003 Dell Desktop computer… nowadays we have some better gear and more experience, but everything else is the same. For me Phantom Posse has always been friendship and joy—thank you to everyone who has listened over the years.
It’s ok to be niche; it’s ok to be underground, forever even (-phantom power). Remember who you are, remember where you came from, who made you who you are—oh and be true.”